Milking a Cow

Just the mention of milking a cow brings many different visions to people. But, most of these visions are either of the automated system used by dairies or of an era past where it was just another daily chore, like feeding the chickens.

Families today do not “milk the cow” for their dairy products. They take a ride in the family car to the local grocery store instead of walking to the barn and actually milking a cow, taking the milk to the house, pouring it into the container and placing it in the refrigerator. Then they have to wait, usually 12-24 hours, until the cream rises to the top and is removed. Now the milk is ready to drink. Really different than buying it off the shelf and pouring it in a glass when you return home.

If the art of actually milking a cow is something that interests you, it is not that hard to do, but you will need a few things. First and most important, you will need a cow, preferably a dairy cow, such as a Jersey or a Holstein. This cow will have to have a calf that is nursing, the younger the calf the better. You will also need a location for this milking to take place, such as a stall with a feeder. You will also need feed, which can be bough at a local feed store. A pail and a short stool will also be items you will need. The pail is used to collect the milk in and the short stool will be used to sit on while you milk the cow. The last two items needed are warm water and a clean cloth to use to clean the teats before the milking begins.

Now that you have the cow and calf plus the supplies you need, the milking process can begin, well nearly anyway. You will need to separate the cow from the calf so the cow can make more milk and the calf cannot drink it before you get it. Overnight is generally long enough to wait to milk the cow after separation of the calf and her. Another thing to take into consideration is that milking should be done on a routine, twice a day at the same time, morning and evening. If you have something come up and will not be capable of milking, you can put the calf on the cow, then separate them later.

Okay, supplies are gathered and you have decided on a routine, the cow and calf are separated and the location is ready, now it is time to milk your cow. To begin with, lead the cow to the milking stall; this can usually be done by carrying a bucket of feed in front of her and heading off toward the milking stall. Pour the feed into the feeder.

Now that the cow is in the milking stall and eating contently, take the stool and place it next to the cow. Sit on the stool, place your hands on the teats, one in each hand, and place your forehead on the flank of the cow. Move the stool if you need to. Place the pail under the teats. Grasp a teat with one of your hands and begin stimulating the teats and udder by massaging the teats up and down, paying close attention to the end of the teats. Massage until you feel the teats harden. Stimulation triggers oxytocin, which causes the milk to come down, signaling the milk is ready. Squeeze the top of the teat with the thumb and forefinger separately on the teat while squeezing. When the last finger has squeezed the teat, release the teat and begin the process again. Do this using both hands and with each teat, being careful to point the milk stream into the pail. Continue milking until you have the desired amount of milk. Return the calf to its mother and allow it to nurse until it is finished. Separate the pair and repeat the process when it is time to.

If you follow these few simple steps, you will have fresh milk daily, or until the cow dries up. But remember, cows kick, butt, step on you, lean on you and are warm on a cold, dreary morning.

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